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Surgeon and Author, Dr. Stuart Gold,
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How Will Tendonitis Wrist Surgery Help Me?

March 31st, 2011

If you are having issues with your wrist tendons, I’m hopeful this discussion about tendonitis wrist surgery well help you.

Tendons are the thick cords that connect muscles to bones. If they become strained due to overuse or improper stress, they come become inflamed, a condition referred to as tendonitis. The result can be pain, tingling, or numbness. Pain may occur only when the affected area is moved, or it may occur at any time, including when the joint is at rest.

Wrist tendonitis should not be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome. Although the two conditions are quite similar and share many symptoms, they affect different parts of the wrist. Both conditions are normally caused by repetitive strain. However, a patient may have only carpal tunnel syndrome, only wrist tendonitis, or both conditions at the same time.

Tendons run down the forearm on both the back and the front and attach the arm to the wrist. These tendons work in harmony to raise and lower the hand or to move it in a sideways or circular motion. The tendons can develop tiny (micro) tears or rips or just become irritated from rubbing against the sheaths that enclose them.

Patients with wrist tendonitis may experience pain in the forearm as well as the wrist. The pain may be very sharp or it may manifest as a constant, tight ache. There may be a loss of flexibility in the wrist. The affected hand may lose strength or become numb.

Few orthopedic surgeons will consider operating for wrist tendonitis until all other options have been exhausted. Overall success rates show the surgery can be an effective way of dealing with the condition. However, the tendonitis can quickly reappear if the patient does not make the changes necessary to prevent its return.

Surgery for wrist tendonitis is often performed in an outpatient setting. If hospitalization is required, the stay rarely exceeds one day. The procedure can be done under local, regional, or general anesthesia.

The surgeon makes an incision over the affected tendons. Damaged or scarred tissue is surgically removed, allowing more room for the tendon to move without constriction. If necessary, torn or damaged ends may need to be sutured. Occasionally, the damage is so severe that a graft is necessary. If so, a small strip is removed from another tendon in the patient’s body, typically his toe or foot, to patch the wrist tendon.

Recovery can take up to six weeks after surgery. The wrist on which the surgery was performed may require immobilization in a cast or splint. Physical therapy is often required to restore full function and to decrease the possibility of scar tissue forming. Should scar tissue form, the tendons can be prevented from moving properly, resulting in reduced function of the wrist

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Typically, patients must make some accommodations to prevent a return of tendonitis. This may involve wearing a wrist brace during stressful activities or giving up a hobby. Certain ergonomic tools, such as a well-designed computer mouse, may help some individuals whose jobs subject them to repetitive stress.

Until next time,


About the Author: Dr. Stuart Gold, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who has 23 years experience specializing in sport injuries, joint replacement, arthritis and limb salvage. As the Director of the Orthopedic Institute, Dr. Gold recently published The Patient's Guide To Orthopedic Surgery to help patients better understand the challenges, risks and opportunities of orthopedic care.

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